If you are reading this, you may believe that you have either a bank account or a safe deposit box at a financial institution, but you simply may not remember where. Perhaps you are a caretaker and the relative or friend that you care for has made an indication that they have an account or deposit box, but they don’t remember. Maybe you are the executor of a loved one’s estate and you have stumbled across a statement or some other type of document that indicates that an account is in limbo somewhere or you are in search of heirlooms that were stashed in a safe deposit box long ago…. Regardless, you are in the right place. Here, you will learn how to find a long-lost safe deposit box or bank account.

Initiating the Search

Starting a search for an old safe deposit box and/or a bank account may be difficult if you are unsure where to start; however, if you are reading this, chances are, you already have some indication of where said items may be. It could be that you received or stumbled upon a bank statement that you do not recognize, a statement pertaining to belongings being held in safe keeping at a financial institution, or a certificate of deposit. If so, simply call the financial institute listed on the mysterious documentation and make an inquiry.

Now, if you are not the owner, the institution that you contact will likely require some sort of documentation to establish that you have a right to the information. This is just a precaution to protect the rightful owner. Examples of documentation that may be legally submitted to gain access to the information includes a death certificate, a power of attorney, and/or any type of court appointment documentation, such as letters of plenary guardianship and/or executor of a deceased person’s estate. Once you submit this and it is approved, you will be provided the information that you seek. In many instances, you may even be able to gain full access to the account and/or safe deposit box.


In many cases, the information that you receive may be that the owner actually closed out the account previously. Many financial institutions will consider accounts and safe deposit boxes abandoned after a period of 3 to 5 years. In this case, they will engage in the process of transferring the contents to the state where the agency is located. This is referred to as “escheatment”. In short, there are laws in each state that require financial institutions to release or to turn over any property that is considered to be “abandoned” after a specific time frame. If an account to safe deposit box was closed several years back, the institution may not have any information on it any longer.

Failed Banks

If the financial institution has failed and was taken over by a new bank, that bank will likely be the one with the information that you seek; however, in some cases, it may be the FDIC. In this instance, 18 months is usually the time frame when the Federal law mandates transferring unclaimed accounts over to the state. This time frame may or may not include the same for the safe deposit boxes. For more information about this, you may visit the website of the FDIC and view their policy on unclaimed funds. You may also use this website to search for unclaimed property. Though, be aware of the fact that the state is likely to have you establish your identity and provide proof of it.

Beware of Scams and Fraud

It is possible to locate bank accounts and safe deposit boxed on your own; however, there are also companies available that will aid you in this process. You may be required to pay a small fee, though. You must be aware of the fact, though, that there are also companies out there that will tell you that you have to have their help in order to conduct these searches. You do not. Most of the companies that attempt to scam or defraud you will push for up-front fees to be paid and will charge quite a bit. Just err on the side of caution when conducting these searches.

Let Us Help

Know of a potential account or safe deposit box here at Somerville Bank and need assistance in your search? Feel free to call one of our many locations for help. Click on the following link now to find a branch: https://somervillebank.net/contacts/